Twenty years ago Martin Williams came over to my fifth floor walk-up apt to borrow my twelve foot long, large mouth bass. I wasn't in a really good mood as he had the raging pink-eye and managed to drop my microwave oven about three and a half feet to the floor.
Whata day, but wait there's more. He actually had to come back a couple of days later cause I wasn't really on board with the debut of the giant bass at the giant puppet theater. As far as I could tell there was no real plan except get the large mouth bass down to the lot at Birmingham's Five Points South (where Johnny Rockets is now) and think of something. He also wanted to borrow my grocery sack and cardboard shark mask. Oh yeah, he had generously loaned me his pink-eye.
It was kinda fun getting the bass down the stair well. We had plenty of people so it was really easy, and it looked like a fish ghost swimming down the stairs. We put his head on the trunk of my primer-red 67 Devile convertible and drove him down to FivePoints with his tail draped over the windshield.
On the night of the show they were trying to hang the bass up backstage, but really had no idea how. After breaking lots of little ropes and dropping my bass a couple of times (damit), They switched plans and tied some green crepe paper streamers to a couple of fans pointing up and lowered most of the lights.
Martin put on the shark mask and swam it out from behind the makeshift curtain into the area near the faux sea-weed. He paused for a minute kinda swimming in place and started into this improv piece that began "Sharks Never Sleep." it went on for a few minutes talking about how sharks have to keep moving or smother. Martin continued to swim the shark in place, as the traffic went by about twenty feet away beyond the parked cars just across the sidewalk. There mighta been fifteen or so people, watching. I think it was a Friday night, lotsa not quite drunk yet foot traffic.
I was still illin a little cause they dropped my bass. The whole shark thing kinda surprised me. Its's definitely the coolest job the shark has ever had. I'd worked right through a halo-ween party trying to finish it a few weeks before. The party was over and the grey spray paint was still wet, kinda made me queasy at the time, but I saved it. Hell I've still got it.